Mary Englund\'s

This paper is an attempt to discuss the biography of Mary Englundís An Indian

Remembers based on her childhood experiences in a Christian European convent.

Her story starts from the day she is taken away from her family to be
civilized in a distant residential school. Englundís experience in the school
could be described as European way of civilizing the young native people that
includes compulsory assimilation, segregation, control and racism. The concept
of civilization is perceived to be for the best interest of the Indian
community, or at least this is what it seems to appear like. Thus, this paper
will tackle the issues of methods used to civilize the Natives and its effects
on Englundís personality and mentality as well as the real purpose behind
civilization. Is it really for the best interest of the Indian people or is it a
form of exploitation of the Natives to benefit the European colonialists?

Assimilation is one form used to civilize the native children. This seems to put

Englund to a lot of curiosity eventually to confusions. On her first day in

Mission, Englund learns about the assimilation policy implemented by the convent
which draws out her curiosity about its purpose. In her experience, she learns
that boys and girls live in separate buildings and wonders why. She appears
curious and thus questions a lot but she gets no decent answer to satisfy her
curiosity. Englund also observes girls being divided in groups to certain tables
during meals and girls are assigned to different jobs, some goes to the
dormitory while others to kitchen or classrooms. Again, she does not seem to
understand the purpose of these procedures. This explains her ignorance about
the system of a Christian convent. Anyhow, she seems to let go of her curiosity
and simply accept it as a form of instruction she ought to follow with no
question asked. With all these curiosities, she has possibly developed a sense
of confusion on why things are done in these manners. Another form used by the
school is by segregation. Through this, Englund seems to suffer from isolation.

Englund recalls when a priest takes her from her family (430). While she is
expected to feel sad leaving her mother, she seems to feel nothing but
excitement. She says that "We were left alone so many times we never had the
tendency to say, ĎWell, Iím sorry Iím going to go away and leave my
motherí because we were alone most of the time." (431) Due to her motherís
recurrent absence, it seems like Englund does not have the chance to bond with
her which explains her coldness towards her mother. Though one would be induced
to concur to this, Englund does not totally blame her mother as she recognizes
the sacrifice she has to make to feed them. When she arrives in the Mission, she
is then separated from her brother. Englund makes a few friends in the convent
but as she learns that she could not trust anyone, she possibly voluntarily
distant herself from others. In one instance, they are told not to discuss their
school activities with their parents but there is one girl who does it and hence
she gets reprimanded for that. Due to this incident Englund becomes cautious not
to be seen doing anything inappropriate or else she is bound to be scolded by
the nuns. As she grows older, she learns to bottle up her feelings knowing that
telling a soul could possibly cause her a punishment. Being away from the people
she cares about and finding no one to trust among her classmates, Englundís
narration suggests that she suffers from isolation. Though she may think that
she could trust her mother, she dare not tell her anything fearing that someone
would tell the nuns. It seems like Englund has no choice but to keep her
feelings and opinions to herself causing her loneliness. Moreover, the nuns have
full control over the native children by means of strict surveillance and
punishments. This seems to be the cause of the development of Englundís
rebellious nature. No matter where they are, in or out of school, the nuns have
their eyes on them. In the school, nuns are always at the look out, to ensure
that children are doing their dormitory routines perfectly. Even during their
domestic activities like cleaning, mending socks and sewing, the nuns instil
perfection in their works. Being new and ignorant, Englund often makes mistakes.

She tends to become rebellious whenever her pride and beliefs are